This week’s episode confronts levels and layers of fear and loathing, and the ongoing question of when the solution becomes worse than the problem. How far is too far? At what point would it be better to die with your integrity or identity intact, rather than make a deal with the devil that potentially wipes out everything you thought you were or the good you were trying to accomplish?
These questions have been a core part of the show from the beginning, both politically, with the revelation that HYDRA and SHIELD had been interwoven since the beginning, and scientifically, as the question of the appropriateness of the use of the TAHITI protocol to revive Coulson has been reflected on by many characters through all five seasons.
The question of Fitz’ and Simmons’ genius, and when they need to rein it in for the good of the world, rather than following the science to its logical extreme, has also been with the show since the beginning, and explored in a new way each season. Season 4 seemed like it should be the peak of that issue, with Fitz helping Radcliffe create murderous LMDs and perpetrating genocide and mass torture on inhumans inside the Framework as his alter ego The Doctor.
Instead, we come back around to it again this week, in an even more chilling scenario, as Fitz needs to follow the science in order to save the world, but comes close to losing his own humanity while doing so. Cooperation with HYDRA is also on the table again, this time with SHIELD as a willing participant, with the goal of saving the world from a ruthless invading enemy. And, with the appearance of a Kree in the tag, the ethics and science of saving Coulson’s life using TAHITI or another advanced method, with or without his consent, are an issue once again.
This time, Coulson’s made his feelings on the subject very clear to everyone close to him, but he and everyone around him seem to be operating based on fear as much as on logic and reason. Daisy’s powers are also an important piece of the puzzle, with the science vs fear conflict driving her story as well. Fear anomalies continue to arise, and Hale continues to send surprises the team’s way. The situation is building in emotion and suspense and the team has 1/3 of the season left, about the length of the final pod in season 4, to prevent multiple catastrophes.